It is impossible to speak about Cologne and without mentioning its huge and impressive cathedral. It can be seen from nearly every point in the city centre with its towers dominating the city's panorama.
If you'd like to enjoy some nice views of downtown Cologne and the Rhine, I suggest that you climb to the platform of the cathedral's southern tower. However, you need to go up 533 steps in order to enjoy the views because there is no lift. I did that and it was worth it.
Dedicated to the saints Peter and Mary, Cologne Cathedral (Kölner Dom) is the seat of the Catholic Archbishop of Cologne. Cologne Cathedral is the greatest Gothic cathedral in Germany and has been Cologne's most famous landmark for centuries. Once the tallest building in the world, Cologne Cathedral still boasts the world's largest church façade.
Construction of the present Gothic church began in the 13th century and took, with interruptions, more than 600 years to complete. The new structure was built to house the relics of the Three Magi, taken from Milan by Holy Roman Emperor Fredrick Barbarossa and given to the Archbishop of Cologne, Rainald von Dassel in 1164.
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The foundation stone of Cologne Cathedral was laid on August 15, 1248, by Archbishop Konrad von Hochstaden, and the choir was consecrated in 1322.
The completion of Germany's largest cathedral was celebrated as a national event in 1880, 632 years after construction had began.
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The cathedral suffered 14 hits by World War II aerial bombs but did not collapse and reconstruction was completed in 1956. In the northwest tower's base, an emergency repair carried out with bad-quality brickstones taken from a nearby war ruin remained visible until the late 1990s as a reminder of the War, but then it was decided to reconstruct this section according to the original appearance. It is possible to climb a spiral staircase to a viewing platform about 98 metres above the ground.
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In 1996, the cathedral was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. - in: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/germany/cologne-cathedral